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  #1  
Unread 01-17-2019, 01:14 AM
Daniel Kemper's Avatar
Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Default Crackers and Cheese: Blue on Wheat

In the blue cheese on the cracked wheat, a pinch
of heaven incomplete. It's built to be
delightful, though somewhat affectedly,
so pair with bourbons that can make you flinch
to wash it down with--balance out the crunch,
imperfectly perfect as memory.
This kind of burning sweet intensity
can make you feel a king, aye every inch.

The aging as the blue has settled in
begins to tell, but when we press the cream,
now crumbled, into moments somehow sweet,
if they're not pressed too hard, but fitted in
with care, O let me not be mad, they seem
to hone the want of something to complete.
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  #2  
Unread 01-21-2019, 01:13 PM
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Felicity Teague Felicity Teague is offline
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Hi Daniel,

This is an interesting sonnet. I think you've written about crackers and cheese before, as well as steak, coffee, and wine. Are you building a sort of gourmet collection? I'm intrigued!

I like the opening description, for the colour and texture. I wasn't sure about 'incomplete' at first, but I think you're using your bourbons to complete the dining experience. If you are, though, I don't really understand 'imperfectly perfect' in this context. Of course it's likely the context I've created is incorrect; apologies if so.

The 'burning sweet intensity' is great. I'm not so keen on 'feel like a king', because I'm female. But it helps build a picture of the poem, now (in my mind) featuring a cheese-maestro and a male pupil. The expression 'aye every inch' is striking. When I read it aloud, I gain a Scottish accent. I like that too.

Entering the sestet, I recognise 'O let me not be mad' and I like the idea of cheese-madness. It fits with the style of your final lines.

I struggled with the meter a few times, but as I've mentioned I'm softer spoken than most people. Overall, I found the poem very entertaining and I think I understood most of it!

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #3  
Unread 01-22-2019, 09:23 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Daniel, I find the switch from "you" in the octave to "we" and then "me" in the sestet distracting for two reasons.

First, that's three changing perspectives. If you eliminated the second person and made it "me" in the octave, then "we" and "me" in the sestet, you would only have two changing perspectives, which would be simpler and less attention-drawing.

Second, when you combine the "you" with the gender-specific "king," I instantly feel, as a female reader, "Oh, he's only talking to male readers." But if the narrator were instead describing his own experience, that separation would vanish, and I could easily imagine myself as the narrator when he feels like a king. And then the irony of discovering in the sestet that the king is actually King Lear, with the "O let me not be mad" quotation, would be allowed to sparkle more.

[Edited to say: Yeah, yeah, I know that "every inch a king" comes from King Lear, too, but since it's not a direct quotation, I didn't immediately make the association.]

Does that make sense?

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-22-2019 at 10:36 AM.
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Unread 01-24-2019, 11:01 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Hi Fliss!

Great to see you around again! Thank you for giving this one a go. I have written a lot of food poems, although my last mention of crackers and cheese, I think, was in a roast that many took some time to get the humor of. [a sort of gourmet collection?] I am thinking about gathering all my foodie poems into a book. I expect to go with crackers and cheese as a study for a while yet.

[bourbons to complete] Yes, but also such a tiny morsel can never completely satisfy the hunger.

['imperfectly perfect'] perfect taste, but imperfectly satisfied; also an intertextual comment on the imperfect rhyme. Somewhat the same way as "affectedly" must be pronounced rather, well, affectedly to stress the 'ly' and make the rhyme.

[so keen on '[] king'], because I'm female. Meh. As an expression of everyday speech we all understand the fluidity of 'you' and commonly use it. I think decades of schooling try to force us to find offence or disconnects where they don't really have that degree of impact. Besides, OMG, the gender-fluid and non-binary communities would be so upset with you being so non-participatory. A woman can say something like, "Before you speak to everyone gathered, spread your arms and raise your chin and you'll feel like a woman, every inch" and I can get it and be inspired by it, as I suppose everyone could. Without having to note that I'm not a woman. I dunno. Your experience is your own.

['aye every inch'] By now you will have discoverd Lear. But I like the accent too. So often when people get into their cups they start doing stuff like that. At least I do sometimes. Hee hee.

['O let me not be mad'] I'm slowly winding to the-poem-under-the-poem. About incompleteness, brevity of life. But seen in crackers-and-cheese? Perhaps it's too late for me, just as it was Lear. The sestet, re-read, can be seen to be talking about the speaker and his memory as well as the cheese. And yet his nostalgia does not yield satisfaction, it yields motivation, perhaps desperation.



Hi Julie,

I really appreciate your feedback. Those are really good thoughts. I'll try to address in brief and then a little chat at the end. I expect to edit along those lines.

[three changing perspectives] [made it "me" in the octave, then "we" and "me" in the sestet] I think you've got a good idea there. Exactly why I post poems here! It's intuitive for me, but clearly not the best quality.

["you"] ["king,"] I'm a little wary of the edges of this comment. It's tremulously close to what I would call an unrealistic kind of "offense-shopping". But the comment's not that simple; it has a good thrust and the poem can cohere alot better with that approach.

[actually King Lear] - I didn't intend the speaker to be necessarily identical with King Lear, just that his desperation, his impending madness is identical to Lear's.

[Yeah, yeah] I knew you'd get the touches , no sweat. The indirectness was meant to hide it just enough-- until the final, more direct quote. It's pretty general language and could have played out as coincidental without the final quote.

[Does that make sense?] It does. I'm trying to set up the savoring of the cheese/crackers as the savoring of any moment, a moment in time, had but lost, appreciated more for the brevity, but.... (etc)...

It's a pleasing irony that the only two commenters in the first 100 were women. One might say it's the objection to [you--king] that caused it, but commentary wasn't restricted to that. I have no idea what it might mean, but enjoy the observation.
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  #5  
Unread 01-24-2019, 03:28 PM
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Felicity Teague Felicity Teague is offline
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the welcome back, and you're welcome for my attempt to comment, hehe. My main reason for commenting was that I like your food themes, as you can probably tell. Also, I hoped that others might join in if I started the discussion, even if I didn't come up with anything particularly useful!

Thanks for explaining the 'incomplete' and 'imperfectly perfect' bits. I like the affected pronunciation of 'affectedly'.

Perhaps I'm unusual, but I don't use 'you' like that, which is why it jumped out at me. That has nothing to do with schooling, just the experience of feeling different from a young age due to illness, and possibly developing a heightened awareness of differences in general. I thought it might be useful to bring it to your attention, but if it isn't I really don't mind :-)

Ah yes, the Scottish accent. Do you know, someone gave me a little dove in a tartan hat for Christmas and I've called her 'McCoo'. I still haven't found out where she came from. It was strange; suddenly she just appeared :>)

I think I need to know 'King Lear' a bit better to pick up the full force of its presence in the poem. It was one of my A-level texts, but at that stage I wasn't required to read too deeply, let's say. It was fun, though :-)

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #6  
Unread 01-24-2019, 06:14 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Dear Daniel,

Clean-up on Aisle Four of the Offense-Shopping Market!

I actually didn't feel any degree of offense whatsoever when I made my initial comment about the linkage of "you" to the gender-specific word "king."

For me, having to take an extra second or two to check my bearings in a poem does not register on the offense scale at all. (Mild annoyance about some unnecessary confusion, yes; offense, no.)

However, your dismissing what Fliss and I both told you as cultural brainwashing--as if there were no way we could have had a negative experience of momentary confusion except as part of someone else's social engineering agenda--definitely moved me closer to offense territory. (As did your gratuitous swipe at "OMG, the gender-fluid and non-binary communities.")

You told Fliss, "I think decades of schooling try to force us to find offence or disconnects where they don't really have that degree of impact."

May I just point out that 100% of the people who took the time to comment on your poem are telling you that the thing we mentioned had a different degree of impact than you think it does?

Whether you want to believe it or not, there really is a momentary distancing effect for some readers while they have to evaluate whether the combination of "you" plus a gender-specific word makes them eavesdroppers instead of addressees.

If you don't mind half of your audience potentially being thrown out of the poem for a brief time while they assess the situation, that's fine. But I don't think I was anywhere near crossing the line into "offense-shopping" when I drew your attention to what Fliss and I both thought was an easily remediable bump in an otherwise pleasant poem.

Best wishes,
Julie

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-24-2019 at 06:21 PM.
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